In the minds of most people, the home has stood apart from the world of work. Bringing the factory or office into the home challenges this division. From the 1870s, when New York cigarmakers attempted to end tenement competition, to New Deal prohibitions in the 1930s, gender ideologies shaped the battle over homework. But by the 1980s, the middle-class mother at the keyboard replaced the victimized immigrant as the symbol of homework. Home to Work restores the voices of homeworking women to the century-long debate over their labor. The book also provides a historical context to the Reaganite lifting of New Deal bans. Where once men's right to contract precluded regulation, now women's right to employment undermined prohibition. Whether empowerment comes from rights to homework or rights as workers depends on whether homeworkers become visible as workers who happen to mother.
"The rewards to the reader are numerous--including, most importantly, a fascinating historical account generally supported by extensive research and documentation...what the reader ultimately gains from Boris's work is the most comprehensive knowledge available from a single source of the social history of homework in the United States." Contemporary Sociology "The subject is timely..." H-Net "Enormously inclusive and massively documented, Home to Work provides stunning evidence of its author's central argument..." Ohio History "Boris makes impressive use of many sources... She also provides a wonderful analysis of Lewis Hine's photographs of immigrant homeworkers. ...this study is required reading for those interested in the history of women and work, its relationship to gender politics, and the rise and decline of the American welfare state." History of Education Quarterly "...complex...an exhaustively researched history of industrial labor performed at home, largely by women and children, from the nineteenth century to the present. It is also a history of reform and attempted reform, of laws that were passed and not passed, to restrict or regulate the exploitation of those who worked at home. In exploring these subjects, Home to Work is, in addition, an inquiry into the history of the gendered division of labor, of ideas about gender held by working-class men and women and of the conceptions of gender that were embedded in laws." The Nation "Eileen Boris's detailed and comprehensive study of homework adds to this body of research with a study that superimposes two areas of women's work often separated in scholarship: the world of family and the world of industrial work...Boris's interest lies in what homework reveals about the gender relations of families, markets, and states. This multi-tiered and complex study revolves around two frameworks that join the history of women and labor: the gendered construction of women's experience and the 'century long argument over state intervention in the labor contract.'" Joanne Goodwin, Journal of American History "...a major contribution to the fields of labor and women's history. It will be the standard account of industrial homework in the United States for some time to come. Boris's imaginative analysis gives shape to a complicated topic and broadens our understanding of labor history by recognizing connections between women's work, state formation, policy discourse, and labor practice." Lynn Y. Weiner, American Historical Review "Eileen Boris's Home to Work is an extensive social-historical account of industrial homework regulation, which focuses on several key judicial decisions and legislative actions, as well as efforts by union leaders and reformers to abolish or reshape home labor." Contemporary Sociology